Executive Q&A - Jeff Paterra, InfoPrint Solutions

For the next installment of our ongoing series talking to the executives of the graphic arts industry, Printing News talked to Jeff Paterra, InfoPrint’s senior vice president and general manager of technology and solutions development.

PN: Tell me a little about your company, the segment of the market it serves, and what you consider to be your “core” users.

JP: InfoPrint Solutions Company is a leading provider of output solutions for business customers from small businesses to large enterprises and commercial printers. Our hardware is used in the production, cutsheet, workgroup and industrial print environments and our software and professional services address a similarly wide range of market segments.

The company was created in June 2007, through a joint venture between Ricoh and IBM. For more than 20 years, IBM and Ricoh have had a strategic partnership to collaborate and innovate on imaging technologies and production output solutions. On July 1, 2010, InfoPrint will become a wholly owned subsidiary of the Ricoh family of companies working alongside other great brands in the print world under Ricoh’s parentage.

InfoPrint combines IBM’s 50-plus years of enterprise printing experience with Ricoh’s office solutions leadership, and places advanced research and development capabilities at the heart of its offering. Our combined hardware, software and services provide customers with the broadest range of products and solutions in the marketplace. We are excited to be celebrating our industry-leading 50 years in production printing this year.

PN: How did you get involved with the company? What is your professional background?

JP: Before joining InfoPrint as the senior vice president and general manager of Technology and Solutions Development, I was responsible for Development and Professional Services at IBM’s Printing Systems Division. Previously, I held a number of technical, management and executive positions in development within IBM’s printing business. I joined IBM as an engineer in printing development in the Information Products Division in 1984.

PN: What do you consider your greatest achievement in this market to be?

JP: InfoPrint’s greatest achievement is that we always strive to adapt to our customers’ needs. We realize that over time, customer needs shift and evolve. As a result, we have always made it our top priority to help customers solve their business problems.

PN: If there was anything you could change, either about your career in regards to the print industry, your company, or the market as a whole, what would it be and why?

JP: We can only go forward from the current point in time, so I believe the focus has to be on the future and the great opportunities that exist in front of us.

PN: What do you consider the greatest challenge to be for the industry right now? Why?

JP: One of the biggest challenges we see is the need for customers to retain and grow their customer base while at the same time optimizing their infrastructure. Investment in solutions that achieve these goals is a critical step for customers - especially in the current economy. This is a key area of leadership for InfoPrint as we deliver solutions such as TransPromo, Print On Demand and Automated Document Factory that can help these companies achieve their objectives.

PN: What do you consider the greatest asset for the industry right now? Why?

JP: The greatest current asset for the print industry is the ever-increasing need to produce more relevant documents. While the absolute number of pages being printed may not be growing substantially, the need for more meaningful and directed content in those documents is growing. This presents an opportunity for industry providers to deliver more sophisticated technology and innovative solutions that drive real value for customers.

PN: In your opinion, what have been the biggest changes to the way we communicate with one another in the past few years? How would you recommend this industry take advantage of that?

JP: The concept of two-way communication has changed over the past few years. Whether it is via blogs, wikis, Twitter or some other vehicle, people have learned to expect constant, continual, real-time communication. This means that printed information also needs to be more valuable, timely and relevant than ever before.

PN: Looking ahead, what major innovations or technologies do you believe will shape the future of the industry? Why?

JP: It is our core belief at InfoPrint that solutions that deliver value to customers will define our industry going forward. It is not enough to deliver a piece of technology or a single element of a solution. Customers tell us they do not want to integrate solutions – they want to work with complete solution providers that can solve their problems. With this in mind, we really see initiatives such as TransPromo, Print on Demand and Automated Document Factory as three key solutions areas that will help shape our industry.

PN: What is the biggest piece of advice would you give to printers and others involved in this industry?

JP: Listen closely to the business challenges your customers are trying to address. Whatever your role is within the print industry, you have customers or potential customers that are trying to solve their own set of business issues. The more you understand their pains, the better chance you have to deliver significant value and satisfy, retain, and grow your customer base.

PN: Is there anything else you would like to share with my readers?

JP: Yes, I truly believe that this is the time to shine in our industry. Customers are really looking for ways to reduce their spending while increasing their effectiveness with their customers. This provides significant opportunities for industry providers to deliver solutions that will help customers achieve these goals.